For the longest time, LGBT characters just didn't exist in Bollywood. And even if they were depicted in a film, they were simply relegated to the sidelines. Notwithstanding those few rare exceptions (Deepa Mehta's 'Fire' and Hansal Mehta's 'Aligarh' come to mind), most Bollywood portrayals of LGBT folks have either been meaningless supporting roles, or they've been laced with offensive stereotypes.
Recently, however, there have been a few shining examples of positive representation that have stood out. While these characters may not have been the protagonists of their films, they were able to leave a significant impression on us.
If they had more screen time, or if their sexuality was given more prominence, each of them had the potential to become one of the best depictions of LGBT representation in Indian films and television.
So, on that note, and in light of the recent landmark Supreme Court verdict that scrapped Section 377, here are five Indian LGBT characters that deserve their own movie:1) Cuckoo, 'Sacred Games'
© Official Instagram/ Kubbra Sait
Cuckoo was, without question, one of the best things about the first season of 'Sacred Games', so much so, that the actress who portrayed her so effortlessly on the screen (the amazing Kubra Sait) has developed a major fan-following of her own. It's rare enough to see transgender characters being depicted on our screens, but to have one depicted in such a positive light, and to see her being accepted by Nawazuddin Siddiqui's character, not in spite of, but because of her gender identity was an absolute highlight of the first season.
It would have been even better, however, if Cuckoo wasn't relegated to just a few episodes and wasn't, spoiler alert, killed off so quickly. As such, seeing an entire movie on Cuckoo is something that I'm sure most of us would love to watch.2) Rahul Kapoor, 'Kapoor & Sons'
© Official Facebook Page/Kapoor & Sons
Yes, Fawad Khan's portrayal of Rahul was sensitive, poignant and not laced with offensive stereotypes (something which Bollywood happens to be a habitual offender of). But the problem with this characterization was simple - Rahul's sexuality was solely used as a 'shocking plot twist' and not as a substantial character trait. In fact, we hardly got to hear ANYTHING about Rahul's boyfriend or his relationship. Just ask yourself, was Rahul's boyfriend even given a name?
So needless to say, seeing a movie entirely based on Rahul's character - one that preferably depicts his relationship in all its glory - is warranted.3) Dev, 'Bombay Talkies'
It's often said that some of the most homophobic men out there happen to be ones who themselves are in the closet. Karan Johar's heartbreaking and brilliant short in Bombay Talkies depicted this perfectly, and happens to be one of those rare portrayals of LGBT characters that wasn't offensive or substandard.
Unfortunately, this was just a 20-minute short film and we hardly got to spend any time with these wonderfully written and acted characters.4) Muniya (And Begum Para), 'Dedh Ishqiya'
© Official Facebook Page/ Dedh Ishqiya
Spoiler Alert - if you haven't seen 'Dedh Ishqiya' yet, stop reading this.
The ending of 'Dedh Ishqiya' gave the viewers a pleasant surprise - the revelation of Muniya and Begum Para's sexual orientation. While it's not said out loud, it's heavily implied that the two of them are either lesbians or bisexuals.
As great as that decision was, it was yet another example of LGBT characters having to either undermine or hide their sexualities for the entire running time of a film. After all, here was a film that featured not one, but two main characters who happened to be queer, and yet again, the only time their sexuality was depicted was at the end of the movie.
As such, won't it be great if there was a sequel that depicted the relationship between Muniya and Begum Para in all its glory?5) Rahul Arora, 'Fashion'
It's hard to remember now, but 'Fashion' actually came out at a time when Section 377 hadn't even been scrapped by the Delhi High Court (that landmark judgement actually came a year later in 2009). As such, Samir Soni's subtle and poignant portrayal of Rahul Arora - a gay man living in the closet - was one of the bright spots of that film.
What made Rahul so real and memorable was his decision to settle down with a woman (Mugdha Godse's character) due to societal pressure. Sadly, this is too common a phenomenon that's rarely, if at all, depicted in our movies and so to see an entire film revolving around Rahul's character would shed some much-needed spotlight on this issue.